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Memories of Dairy Mart Ponds

Northern Waterthrush - Parkesia noveboracensisWhen I was very young, the dairies in San Diego were at the top of their game. Places like Mission Valley and the Tijuana River Valley were dominated by some of the largest dairies in the state. In those days the now threatened Tri-Colored Blackbird benefited from the dairy activities and may have been the most numerous bird species in the county.

Eventually pressure to develop shopping malls, car lots, and hotels pushed out the Mission Valley Dairies. The fallout of county-wide development eventually pushed San Ysidro dairies away as well. By the 1970s all but one of the smaller Tijuana River Valley dairies were gone. By 1989, Egger Farms, the last of these dairies shut down operations.

The horse ranches that shared the valley with the dairies continue to hang on, but the days where they hosted famed horses like Trigger and Seabiscuit are but a memory.

The largest and most successful dairy it the Tijuana River Valley was Dairy Mart. When it shutdown operations and all the structures were removed, some of the land was converted to sod farms, which is now a popular place to look for migrating grassland specialist like pipits and longspurs. Several ponds remain to this day and will attract local nesting birds as well as migrants.

There are several trails that penetrate the riparian valley and can reward the nature loving public during their explorations with a variety of bird encounters.

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